Dr. Bailes speaks regularly at conferences, training classes, and special events.
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I flunked my first physics exam in college. Yep. I got a 57% on it. I felt horrible about it because I was a physics major. Despite my dismal start to college physics, however, I did go on to get a doctorate in the field. The secret was figuring out for myself what millions of Chinese people learn from an early age. Here's how it happened.
Acronyms and initials (let's call that AI,† for short, not to be confused with the other AI, which stands for artificial intelligence, or AIA, which stands for American Institute of Architects) are part of the jargon of every field. Our field, whether you call it building science, green building, home performance, or something else, is no exception. So, a few years ago I started putting together a list that I now include in the manuals that we give out in our training classing (HERS rater and BPI Building Analyst).
I just returned from Arizona, where I spoke at the Structural Insulated Panel Association’s annual conference. Since it was in Tucson, I also took the opportunity to visit with my friend David Butler. He’s an amazing source of knowledge in the field of building science, especially concerning mechanical systems, and our conversation got me to thinking about learning curves. His story is quite interesting and not so different from mine in some ways. Perhaps the advice at the end of this article, based on what David and I went through (independently) over a decade ago, will help you as you embark on your own building science learning curve.
A couple of years ago, my friend Steve Byers of Energy Logic wrote an article about how to get the most out of your conference experience. In it, he included a link to a paper titled 15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi: Conference Commando (pdf), which I believe every conference goer should read. With the RESNET conference coming up next week and many more following throughout the year (Building Energy, Greenprints, ACI, SIPA, Building Science Summer Camp, EEBA, GreenBuild...), you need to be as prepared as the Energy Avenger (see video below).
I've been going to the RESNET conference at the beginning of each year since 2009. I also went in 2004, and I can tell you that it's a great learning and networking opportunity if you're in the home energy industry. Are you on the fence about coming to the RESNET conference this year? Are you not on the fence but just haven't registered yet? Even if neither of those apply, see my list below and you may find a reason that you hadn't considered.
When I wrote about the debate over the terms 'building envelope' vs. 'building enclosure' a couple of weeks ago, I favored the former but overall felt agnostic on whether we should choose one over the other. I didn't think I'd change my mind. After reading the many comments from readers here in the Energy Vanguard Blog and in the two LinkedIn groups where I posted the article as well, I have indeed decided that we should go with one of the two terms and abandon the other.
Ah, textbooks, those compendia of facts and figures that we lug around when we're in school. We do multitudinous homework assignments out of them and spend countless hours trying to make sense of the great collections of information within them. I spent 24 years in school as a student and another 9 years teaching high school and college physics. That's a lot of time with my head in textbooks.
We've been teaching our Home Energy Rater training class for over two years now. Because I'm like Sweetwater beer, a local favorite here in Atlanta, and "don't float the mainstream," I spread the material of the class out over 8 days. (Well, I don't know that I'm a local favorite, but it's true that I don't float the mainstream.) I announced a couple of months ago, however, that we were putting our class on hold for the rest of the year to re-evaluate how we're offering this training because our enrollment has been low.
Do you really need to go to college? If your heart's not in it, you can't find a field of study that excites you, and your college degree doesn't help your job prospects, the answer may be no. But what can you do without a college degree? Plenty, as it turns out. And there's also plenty you can do that requires putting your brain to good use. Whatever you do, just don't end up like John Blutarsky (the character played by John Belushi in Animal House), who said when he got susupended: "Six years of college down the drain!" And then there was Dorfman, who was admonished, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
The 2012 Building Science Summer Camp began last night as people from around the US and Canada arrived in Westford Massachusetts for what is officially called the Westford Symposium on Building Science. I got in at about 7 pm and got a chance to catch up with several people I know and meet a few new ones. A couple of people, including Joe Lstiburek, told me how much they enjoyed reading about the Turbo Thermo-Encabulator Max. Mostly, though, I was a listener.
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